Jane Eaton Hamilton

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. We must always take sides. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." — Elie Wiesel

Tag: queer

Huff Po Loves “Weekend”

 

Lesbian Communities: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

1. Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton. Do you remember what it feels like to read a novel that has lesbian lives, lesbian bodies, lesbian minds thoughtfully and carefully rendered by a writer of extraordinary talent? If you feel like it has been a long time since you read a novel like that, pick up Jane Eaton Hamilton’s Weekend (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016). Examining two lesbian couples, their romances, their conflicts, and their lives, Weekend reminds me how lesbian writers render lesbian characters with extraordinary grace, humanity, and insight.

 

 

Dorothy Allison on Lenny

The inimitable Dorothy Allison on Why Working-Class Literature Is the Strongest

8 Lesbian BDSM Novels to Curl Your Toes (and Maybe Melt Your Heart)

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Weekend made this fun list by Casey Stepaniuk over at Autostraddle! Catch what Casey has to say about them here.

The Collectors by Lesley Gowan

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At Her Feet by Rebekah Weatherspoon

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Owning Regina: Diary of My Unexpected Passion for Another Woman by Lorelei Elstrom

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Savor Her by Zee Giovanni

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The Night Off by Meghan O’Brien

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Scissor Link by Georgette Kaplan

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Tell Me What You Like by Kate Allen

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Older Queer Voices: an online anthology

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This anthology of older queer voices. Authors Sarah Einstein and Sandra Gail Lambert, thank you, and thank you to the contributors, too.
 

27 Books Every Person In Any Country Should Read

…but especially if you’re attending one of the hundreds of Women’s Marches around the world this weekend. Or should I say especially if you’re not?

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“These novels, essay collections, memoirs, histories, and more will help you understand why there is no feminism without intersectionality, why we should remember our history before we repeat it, and why Roe v. Wade is a lot more tenuous than you might think.” -Doree Shafrir

Buzzfeed Books

Book review: Agony and ecstasy apparent in new novel Weekend

Tom Sandburn’s review of WEEKEND in the Vancouver Sun. From June 2016.

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“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy tells his readers at the beginning of Anna Karenina.  Like most successful epigrams, this line is pungent, compelling and memorable. Also, like many such quips, it could work just as well turned inside out, as a declaration that all unhappy families have broad stroke elements in common.

While award-winning Vancouver poet, short story writer and novelist Jane Eaton Hamilton’s new book, Weekend is, by, the author’s own account, inspired by Raymond Carver’s grim 1981 meditation on love among the ruins “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” it can also be read as a reflection on Tolstoy’s formulation about happy and unhappy families. But however the erudite reader wants to compare it to earlier fiction, Weekend itself is a tour de force, an account of two same-sex couples in crisis, a tender meditation on the nature of love, desire, betrayal, mortality and reconciliation.

2016 Handout: Book cover of Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton. To go with review on Tracy Sherlock books pages. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Book cover of Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton

It also is notably successful in rendering the complex realities of sex, a challenge that defeats most writers who attempt it. Not many readers these days will be shocked or offended by the book’s sexual frankness, but some will wince at the way Hamilton breaks another taboo. Her enthusiastically sexual characters are in mid life (one is turning 50 as the weekend occurs) and come to their erotic experiences with all the baggage that status implies. In a culture that disdains the old, particularly older women, as sexless, these moments of powerful erotic realism are genuinely transgressive and wonderfully done.

While I describe the main characters as same sex-couples, the reality is somewhat more complex, as one of the characters is considering a gender transition. The fact that this character prefers the de-gendered singular pronouns “they” and “their” will take a bit of getting used to for some readers, but the calm, matter of fact way in which Hamilton portrays trans issues and the new verbal etiquette they imply is one of the book’s many strengths.

Unlike the gay novels of my youth, which tended to focus univocally on the coming out narrative, this book takes all that for granted and turns its attention to what happens after one has come out, won the right to marry and moved into what the public intellectual Stan Persky calls a “post gay” reality. Often enough, Hamilton suggests, this post liberation reality, while obviously a huge improvement on the fever swamps of homophobia and oppression that preceded it, is full of ordinary human heartbreak and betrayal, sorrow, tedium and flawed, triumphant love.

That recognition, and the lapidary prose Hamilton uses to embody and dramatize it make Weekend a remarkable, intricate and mature work of art. And Hamilton can reflect on these matters from the perspective of one of liberation’s veteran warriors. According to the University of Toronto’s Poetry Online, Hamilton “came out in 1982. She was a litigant in Canada’s same-sex marriage case from 2000-2003, and then maintained an website called queermarriage for the next several years to aid couples coming to B.C. from other countries with queer-friendly resources.”

Most of the novel’s action takes place over a weekend at two lake island homes in Ontario cottage country, giving the book a tight temporal and geographic focus, almost Aristotelian in its unity, a unity that is only partly diffused by the book’s coda, which takes the four lovers past the weekend, back to the city and on into new domestic and medical complications.

The couples are Elliot and Joe, two women who are celebrating the recent birth of their daughter Scout, and Ajax and Logan, who have come to the lake for Logan to propose marriage to Ajax. In the course of the weekend the couples are both disrupted, one by abandonment, one by a health crisis.

While in summary this may sound like the stuff of queer soap opera, in Hamilton’s deft, spare treatment, there is no melodrama. Sex is portrayed in a compelling, original fashion, and the trials and rigours of dealing with a new baby are portrayed with sensual detail and emotional depth. Hamilton’s rendering of her character’s heart crisis and of the years of impaired functioning, pain and body shame that preceded it benefits from the same sensual precision and closely observed detail that illuminate her sex scenes. All her characters are nuanced, complex and believable creations. This is the real world of imperfect adults, captured and rendered with compassion, wit and intelligence.

Much of this is accomplished by Hamilton’s exemplary use of free indirect discourse, that challenging but supple device that allows a third person account to reflect the first person inner life of the character. This approach, pioneered by Jane Austen, is a powerful one, allowing layers of double perspective and irony to be rendered in careful, minimalist fashion.

This is a remarkable book. Little wonder that Hamilton has been recognized so often for her narrative skills- by the Guardian’s Best Book of the Year List, the BC Book Prizes, the VanCity Award, CBC Literary Awards and many other prizes. If you have not yet discovered this important Canadian voice, Weekend is your opportunity.

Tom Sandborn lives and writes in Vancouver. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos65@telus.net.

 

 

WEEKEND

#Weekend #eatonhamilton
More reader reviews!
really liked it
Jesus Christ, what a gorgeous prose!
And all the queerness! My god. The boi dykes, the kinksters, the dis-identifiers, the non-normatives, the sweet dreamers, the loose-talkers, the sweet lovers, the broken hearted. Gotta love ’em all. –Penny, Goodreads
JEH acrylic on paper 2015
sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton
Modern romance! Exactly like something you may have read before, but also completely different. What Hamilton has done here is take the type of relationship story we have all read a million times and somehow re-invent it. Some of the elements seem a little forced (the island), but the story opens up into the world when the characters return to the city.
Funny, fierce, tender and revelatory.
–George Ilsley, Goodreads

WEEKEND on Amazon.ca

Format: Paperback

Jane Eaton Hamilton’s ‘Weekend’ is a searing, thought-provoking, funny, touching, steamy, and heart-wrenching look at one weekend in the life of two couples; a weekend that functions as an allegory for all in their lives that led them there, and all that will follow. Its depiction of love and sex in the queer context is uncommon, and uncommonly well written. Most writers struggle to show readers what life is like for their characters; Eaton Hamilton puts it all on display with what seems like ease and certainly with grace. The book offered me new ways of perceiving the world and new ways of wondering how my queer family and friends may experience life, and I am so grateful for that. The dialogue is constantly on fire (and the air, the summer air is so hot, and that heat just permeates the book so that I always wanted to read it by water); Eaton Hamilton seems always to find the right word and to know, intuitively, the cadence of a conversation. The strength of that dialogue was also my emotional undoing — I was so caught up that each secret or betrayal or kindness hit me with as much emotional force as it did the characters. Pick up a copy and get ready for a wonderful ride.


Seen reading…

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In Ontario colour coordinated with toenails…

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In Toronto…

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And wherever this is…

Penny on Goodreads says, “Jesus Christ, what a gorgeous prose!
And all the queerness! My god. The boi dykes, the kinksters, the dis-identifiers, the non-normatives, the sweet dreamers, the loose-talkers, the sweet lovers, the broken hearted. Gotta love ’em all.”

“Jade Colbert rounds-up the best from Canadian independent publishers.”

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Don’t know if this is exactly a *good* review or not, but it’s the Globe, so what the heck? Happy to be here with Myrna Kostash and Susan Perly.

Globe and Mail review

The WEEKEND Curve

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Julie R Enszer generously reviews WEEKEND for Curve Magazine:

‘Weekend’ By Jane Eaton Hamilton

“Stunningly beautiful.”

“This is a book I have been waiting to read. It is a book I enjoyed every single minute of reading. It is a book I want to share with everyone. I commend Weekend. This is a story of how we live our queer lesbian lives now. Do not miss it.”

Why Gay Pride? Why Rainbow Sidewalks?

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Here Are All The People Applauding The Orlando Gay Club Shooter

This what we get killed for

My heart chokes for all the victims, survivors and loved ones of the Orlando executions. We hold you in our queer hearts. Always. All ways.

Excerpt from my 1998 poetry chapbook, Going Santa Fe, which won the League of Canadian Poets Poetry Chapbook Award judged by bill bissett.

62)

 

Tell me something about lesbians

 

We are famous for potlucks

 

Tell me something real

 

I am trying to tell you

she and I are the same thing

 

I am trying

to tell you I am a woman

she is a woman

the same thing

as you, just

two people uniting

netting love from the

marine heavens

 

We comfort each other

when the sky churns like a cauldron

grey foam

 

Wouldn’t you wish this pleasure

on anyone?

 

63)

 

The truth is I grew the

tub of nodding sunflowers

And the bowl of chicken

on the harvest table? I cooked

And the quilt you lie on? I sewed it

And the book in your hands? I wrote it

And the baby’s cheek? I kissed it

 

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Weekend trailer

The folks at Big Creature Media do it again! Thanks, Big Creature with magic fingertips!

 

 

 

 

Do you have a vulva? Not on Kiddle, you don’t. That would be bad.

 Please send a letter of complaint, at the bottom of the page, and notify your network.

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Update: now the “bad” designation has been replaced by this angry robot saying:

“You have entered an LGBT related search query. Please realize that while Kiddle has nothing against the LGBT community, it’s hard to guarantee the safety of all the search results for such queries. We recommend that you talk to your parent or guardian about such topics.”

Weekend: I think it might actually be coming out!

COVER WEEKEND

49th Shelfing anticipated spring reads!

49th Shelf

Autostraddling the heck out of spring

COVER WEEKEND

15 Queer/ Feminist Books To Read In Early 2016

My novel “Weekend” would be one of them, joining Roxane Gay with “Hunger” and Tig Notaro with “I’m Just A Person,” and many more.

Contemporary Verse II: The Poetics of Queer

PoeticsofQueer

CVII had never brought out an all-LGBTQIA2 issue, but now they have! Featuring the work of these Canadian writers:

John Barton, Tamiko Beyer, Nicole Brossard, Randy Lee Cutler, Amber Dawn, Andrew Eastman, CE Gatchalian, Patrick Grace, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Maureen Hynes, Kyle Kushnir, Alex Leslie, Chandra Mayor, JJ Kegan McFadden, Doug Melnyk, Robin Metcalfe, Erin Mouré, Jim Nason, Billeh Nickerson, James B Nicola, Tomy “Teebs” Pico, Marika Prokosh, Rachel Rose, Andrea Routley, Marina Roy, jes sachse, Trish Salah, Kevin Shaw, Colin Smith, Bowen Smyth, Matthew Walsh, Betsy Warland, Daniel Zomparelli

My poem is Wish You Were Here

Marnie Woodrow: Author Q+A

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Author photo: Janette Piquette Photography, 2014

Thanks to author Marnie Woodrow for putting herself into the spotlight for me. I am happy to share Marnie’s talents with her fans, and also to introduce her to new readers. Here is our Q+A:

I think anyone who follows your career knows that you wear many hats. You are a bereavement counsellor, an editor, an avid cook—not to mention the big hat, the 30-gallon hat, which is author. How do you manage all that shifting and juggling?

I have a lot of energy and also no interest in sitting in a room alone 7 days a week. There’s nothing to write about if one doesn’t live. Plus, there’s the practical reality of paying the bills and I like to shake up how that happens. I certainly don’t write fiction for the money it brings in.

How much time does your counselling occupy?

I mostly give workshops, so it’s completely up to me how often I do grief and bereavement work. Not surprisingly, my bereavement training comes in very handy with certain editorial jobs, especially memoirs. I’ve worked on some very intense personal material about grief issues.

I sent one of my friends to you to have his (first) book edited and he was very happy with the outcome. How much editing do you fit into your schedule?

I love editing. I see a lot of contempt on the part of some freelance editors when it comes to working with writers and I don’t get it. It’s a beautiful relationship when it works and that’s a two-way street where respect is concerned. I edit one to two writers a month max in terms of bigger projects, and I coach weekly, never more than two or three writers at once. I like to enjoy what I’m doing and not resent it.

Let’s talk about writing. When did you come out of the gate as a writer? And why short fiction?

I started off writing poetry, which was roundly rejected by all magazines and journals. I was about 20 when I started writing short fiction and that was the first writing I had published (next to my recipe for pork chops, printed in a newspaper when I was about 10). I still write short fiction and poetry. I get more excited about publishing poetry than I do prose, because to me it seems so much harder to break through in poetry. Whether or not I send my collection of poems out remains to be seen. I have also returned to playwriting in the past 2 years.

Do you prefer writing short fiction or novels?

Right now I’m in love with the novel form. The ideas that come just seem to require more breathing space and I’m also addicted to research and preparation, which novels seem to require. I have two full-length plays I’m resuming work on, but once this next novel takes hold in a bigger way, I’ll turn my focus to it till it’s done. I don’t ever want to spend a decade on one project again unless it is absolutely necessary.

What was your experience in publishing a first book? A second book?

My first book came out with a tiny Toronto press and it was a hand-numbered affair with lots of indie bookseller assistance. Handselling and word of mouth have always been important in my career. My second book was with a slightly larger press and that was fun, it got more attention, although again, as a very indie phenomenon. My third was with a huge house, Knopf, and that was also a thrill ride.

Are you still writing short fiction, and, if so, when will we see your next collection?

I wrote a third collection of short fiction that I plan to resume work on next year, but there are too many other projects on the front burner for now.

Your novel “Spelling Mississippi” came out in 2002. How was this book, which doesn’t take place in Canada, but in Louisiana, born?

It came of a passion for the topic of the Florence flood of 1966, and wondering who was there for that in their youth and a passion for New Orleans, city of beautiful, insane, lovely people. I stayed there for a few months in my early 20s and there was a real woman who tried to cross the Mississippi, and it made me wonder what she planned to do when she got to the other side, had she made it before the Coast Guard yanked her out of the water.

“Spelling Mississippi” is a lesbian novel. At the time it came out, lesbian work was pretty fringe in Canada. What has been your reception as a lesbian author?

It’s interesting to think of this now, because at the time Knopf didn’t treat it as a lesbian novel, but as literary fiction, part of their New Face of Fiction campaign, with little focus on who the lovers were in the story. So I think I found a lot of non-lesbian AND lesbian readers that way. I’m an out and proud writer, but I never actually envision my work as lesbian, although it almost always is, character-wise, I suppose. Except for the next one I just started, and who knows what that will end up being…

What has it been like to be a queer author in Canada?  Do you think it has altered your career or opportunities?
I’m told often that there is a lavender ceiling, a limit to how much acceptance any queer writer will ever get here, and I suppose it all depends on what a writer is looking for from her career. I mean, it’s never been a goal of mine to be a household name or to be invited to the right party. I want to be read widely, if possible, but the quality of the writing should be what draws people to a book. I don’t read exclusively queer authors and I think it’s important to branch out in all directions whether with what we read or what we write. 

Do you have advice for young queer writers considering careers?
Read more than you write, read more than you blog, write often and with your own voice and it will happen. Talent cannot be suppressed. Discipline is more important than fifteen seconds of internet fame. 
Now that Spelling Misssissippi is all wrapped up, and behind you, are there things that you would do differently? Were you happy with the outcome?

I would have enjoyed myself more instead of worrying so deeply about book sales. I was paid a lot of money for “Spelling Mississippi” and I took the pressure to heart quite intensely. But I was also thrilled with the experiences I had (festivals and readings) and the people I met through researching and publishing it. And the team at Knopf was wonderful, I got to work with one of the best editors in the country at the time, Diane Martin.

Do you have specific thoughts about publishing, about the changes in publishing since you brought out your first book in 1991?

I think that social media is a huge help to emerging writers in some ways, and certainly Can Lit has a huge profile now, much bigger than it had in ’91. It’s still a hard go that isn’t for the faint of heart. I once had a student ask me what he could expect for a salary in fiction writing and I had to work really hard not to laugh. Salary? I wish!

What is the best part of being a writer for you?

Having an outlet for my insatiable curiosity and justification for talking to myself, a lifelong only-child habit. Also, I love reading and, well, one has to read voraciously if one is going to write anything decent.

What is the most challenging part?

Keeping the faith some days. Ass in chair on a sunny day is also hard.

I know you have a new novel due out this fall (2015). Can you tell us a little about that book and how it came to be?

Heyday is the name of my new novel, and it’s a parallel love story set in 1909 and the 21st century. It came of my love for rollercoasters and Toronto Island then and now and my personal questions about reincarnation and grief.

Is there a story or a fragment of prose that you could share with us?

Excerpt from the opening pages of Heyday:

We met after the man Ferris invented his wheel and before time-share villas on Mars. It was hot for June. You came dashing down the ramp of life, all boots and hope. In the sun we made promises, plans to conquer the world outside the one we’d had named for us. We designed a wild world of cotton candy dreams and cold drinks and always the decision of whether to spin or coast, soar skyward or rush downward. Do both, you tell me now. And when night comes, autumn—keep your promises, no matter what.

That one day the carbon stench of scorched wood and charred canvas drifted over the harbour. Silver tendrils of smoke rose still from the devoured skeletons of roller coasters. Before even reaching shore I could see and smell the destruction. It was necessary to shut my ears to the comments of gawkers riding the ferry, out for a last good look at the fall-out of a wayward spark in a wooden kingdom. Our world. Their heartless curiosity was nearly unbearable. Talk of insurance and arson and none of it mattered till I clapped eyes on you again and knew that another girl had been taken away from someone else.

She was the healthy one, everyone said. If anything, I should have been the one to get cancer. Me with my long love affair with cigarettes, my big fat appetite for everything decadent and bad for you. And then there was my dishonest heart, loving elsewhere but with cowardice. Loving you through time. You must be this tall to ride this ride…

            We’ll go to Coney Island, it won’t matter. No crying. Girls died every day. Not mine.

Marnie Woodrow (born 1969 in Orillia, ON) is a Canadian writer and editor. She has also worked as a researcher/writer for TV and radio.

Woodrow has published two short fiction collections, Why We Close Our Eyes When We Kiss in 1991 and In the Spice House in 1996, and the novel Spelling Mississippi in 2002. Her second novel, “Heyday” is slated for Fall 2015 publication in Canada with Tightrope Books. A recent popular writing instructor at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, she won an Excellence In Teaching Award in 2005.

Spelling Mississippi was short-listed for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2003.

Woodrow has also been a columnist for Xtra!, Toronto’s gay and lesbian biweekly newspaper. Her occasional journalism, essays, stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including The Globe and Mail, National Post, CV2, Write, NOW, eye weekly and This Magazine.

A former resident of Toronto, Ontario, she now resides in Hamilton, Ontario where she teaches Creative Writing at an independent bookstore and online.  -from Wikipedia

 

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